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Farewell to school sports pioneer Gary McSweeney

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Gary McSweeney, centre, was a pioneer in Catholic school sport. Photo: CSNSW
Gary McSweeney, centre, was a pioneer in Catholic school sport. Photo: CSNSW

Gary McSweeney, one of the founders of Catholic school sport in Australia, has passed away following a brave fight with cancer aged 66.

Instrumental in mentoring generations of educators in sporting pathways, Mr McSweeney’s faith and love for life endeared him to many people in the Armidale Diocese for over 25 years, spending 21 of those as principal of St Edward’s primary school, Tamworth.

He recently moved into a special projects role, focusing on his great love for sport and school facilities support.

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Mr McSweeney was a significant influence in the commitment to allow Catholic students to compete against public and private schools.

He was also the first Catholic to be appointed in an executive position to the NSW primary schools sports association (NSWPSSA).

“In 1992, he convened an inter-diocesan Catholic cross country carnival in Barraba which was the first one to be held outside of the metro.”

His membership of the Catholic schools coordinating committee (now Catholic Schools NSW) commenced in 1996.

The following year he took the first Polding athletics team to a NSWPSSA carnival.

In 1992, he convened an inter-diocesan Catholic cross country carnival in Barraba which was the first one to be held outside of the metropolitan area. He was also the NSW athletics team manager from 1997-2003.

In 2020, Gary was appointed a board member for school sport Australia, which he held until 2022.

In his spare time, he had a love for horse racing and rugby, devoting many hours to the Pirates rugby club in Tamworth.

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